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UPS Never Makes Left Turns

Ups truck

In the field of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.Louis Pasteur, French chemist and microbiologist

Did you know UPS trucks almost never make left-hand turns? Understanding the mechanics of how delivery vehicles work increased productivity for drivers and reduced fuel costs dramatically.
UPS infographic on left turns

From a CNN post about UPS and their left-turn strategy

UPS does not ban left turns outright, says Jack Levis, Senior Director of Process Management at UPS. "We will make left hand turns, but not ones that are unnecessary. We don't need to go in circles all day long by making only right hand turns. We have tools analyze the number of left hand turns for each route, and we can work out which ones are avoidable." 

You simply cannot over-estimate the value of personal experience. The detriment of left-hand turns surely came directly from a driver or perhaps a product manager participated in a drive-along and noticed the wait time. Not only does waiting to turn decrease delivery efficiency, UPS realizes now that optimizing for right turns also saves a bunch of money. 

And by the way, left turns also increase driver irritability. Maybe it's just me but I go insane waiting waiting waiting for a light to change. 

What's the takeaway for product managers? Walk a mile in your customer's shoes. Do the job or watch your customers do the job. And you'll see many, many ways to improve their efficiency, reduce their job difficulty, and perhaps save some money as well.

A successful product manager knows their product personas better than anyone. How? Observe a customer's daily routine for amazing insights.

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